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Brexit – Implications for Family Law

September 2016 - Issue 2

Since the vote in favour of the UK leaving the European Union there have been a number of anxious contacts from clients who are experiencing relationship difficulties, either as EU citizens married to UK citizens or vice versa, wanting to know where they stand with regard to divorce and financial claims.  The position is as follows:-

  1. Jurisdiction is the basis for deciding in which country claims can be brought. 
  2. More than one jurisdiction can apply, for example, a UK citizen married to a Spanish citizen.
  3. Where more than one jurisdiction applies, whether within the EU or outside the EU, consideration has to be given by a spouse as to which jurisdiction is likely to present best outcome.  Best outcome may relate to eventual share; speed; cost; and enforcement issues if assets are in one jurisdiction rather than another.  Best outcome may not always be identical for each party to a relationship and therefore it needs early consideration as there may be a race to seek to secure one jurisdiction above another. 
  4. The ability to identify jurisdiction and who can apply in which country, is embedded in European Union statute.  Decisions will have to be made by government and through negotiation with EU members as to how this is unpicked and whether what replaces it is the same or different.  So far, post the Brexit vote, nothing has changed and the laws which apply before the referendum still apply today and at least until the United Kingdom formally leaves the European Union, a process which is currently believed to be of at least 2 years duration.  The need to consider which jurisdiction is available and/or better/or worse will apply pre and post the UK leaving the European Union, albeit that the options on jurisdictional availability may change post UK departure from the European Union. 
  5. Most family cases are resolved in less than 2 years.  What will become more difficult is the clock ticking down on the 2 years.  Priorities will need to be discussed as clients are likely to have to juggle, for example between wanting to leave a relationship; consideration of immigration status; and how speedy or otherwise the case is likely to be to resolve which often depends upon the degree of cooperation between the parties.  Family law is already multi-layered and the position with Brexit provides for an additional layer of consideration which may make a case more complicated.  It will be very important to take early advice. 

If you have clients to whom this is likely to apply, do not hesitate to call Georgie Hall just to chat through the issues and possible implications.

Georgie Hall

Partner - Head of Family Law

e ghall@prettys.co.uk

t 01473 298233

Georgie Hall

Partner - Head of Family Law

e ghall@prettys.co.uk

t 01473 298233

 

 

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